Monday, March 29, 2010

Query Lesson part Three

Hi everyone,

Since we have a bit of a theme going, I thought I'd add to it and take a minute to go through some query advice as well.

Back when I first joined the blog, I wrote this post, that included a mock query letter for Little Red Riding Hood. It is a good layout for your query.

But what do you do with those two body paragraphs? If you only have a single page to tell an editor about your story, and on that page, you only have two real paragraphs about the story, how do you fit hundreds of pages worth of story into two paragraphs?

The trick is, Know what's important.

Here's the problem, very little of your actual story is really important. That comes as a bit of a shock to most people, but it is true.

For the purposes of romance, you have to get three things across.

Who are your characters?
What is their problem?
What is the tone of this story and your style?

These are the fundamental building blocks of your story, all the plot twists, intrigue, witty shenanigans, all of that is dressing for these three basic things.

When you craft your query, take the time to give a sense of who your characters are, and why we're going to root for them. In Angie's case, Lizzie came across as a real everywoman in a crazy situation. We could relate. I think we've all considered ourselves Lizzie Brownish on occasion.

By the end of those two paragraphs we should know what type of character's we're going to be reading about. Are they silly? Serious? Deadly? That has to come across.

Then focus on their problem. The problem is what will draw a reader in and keep them reading. Try to give your query a sense of "How in the heck are they going to get out of/over that?"

And finally, never sacrifice the tone of your writing. If your book is fun, the query should be fun too. Dramatic? Angsty? Exciting? You have to reflect the tone of the book in your query. Take a close look at word choices, and the elements of the story you did include in the body of the query. Do they reveal the over all tone of the book?

That's all my query writing advice for now!

Happy reading everyone,

And stop by my blog for my super fun poetry get together for your chance to win a copy of Beyond the Shadows, a month before it releases.

See you there!



Casey said...

Excellent advice, Jess. My fellow bloggers are making the fiction writing class I'm teaching so much easier . . . you're all offering great advice!

Jess Granger said...

Glad to help, Casey.

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin said...

I hope I can find as good advice about queries if and when I figure out how to hold a story together for the length of a novel. For now, what I manage to finish is too short to need them. {Smile}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin